In my personal devotions, I use a "system" that has been very helpful in providing a disciplined schedule of Bible reading. I heard about it a year ago and have been pleased with the results. Essentially, the Bible is broken up into 10 different book lists, e.g. The Pentateuch, The Gospels, Psalms, Proverbs, etc. Each day, one chapter from each list is read. I enjoy this method because it not only helps me to have a known reading goal for the day, but also provides me with passages from all over the Bible in all its different genres, authors, and audiences. I recommend it highly.
Another benefit is seeing the same theme repeated in many different places in Scripture. The other day I was reading the Bible and the sovereignty of God shone through in every passage. We can rejoice in our Lord's power, control, and providential care.
The Sovereignty of God can be seen through:
1) His gracious provision for orphaned daughters (Numbers 27:1-7)
Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father's brothers.” Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father's brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them."
2) His answering King Hezekiah's prayer and obliterating the Assyrians (2 Kings 19)
So [Rabshakah] sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’” Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD..."
So things look extremely grim for Jerusalem, because the Assyrians have conquered everyone else and they think that God is the same as the other gods of the kings. Not so much. Look at what God tells the Assyrians through the prophet Isaiah:
“Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruins, while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown. But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came."
And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
3) Job's testimony of His complete omnipotence over mankind (Job 12:13-25)
With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding. If he tears down, none can rebuild; if he shuts a man in, none can open. If he withholds the waters, they dry up; if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land. With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his. He leads counselors away stripped, and judges he makes fools. He looses the bonds of kings and binds a waistcloth on their hips. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows the mighty. He deprives of speech those who are trusted and takes away the discernment of the elders. He pours contempt on princes and loosens the belt of the strong. He uncovers the deeps out of darkness and brings deep darkness to light. He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a pathless waste. They grope in the dark without light, and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.
Of course Job is speaking truth, but in the surrounding context of his situation one almost gets the sense that he doesn't feel it in his heart and he is using God's sovereignty as an accusation against God. It isn't until the end of the book that he repents and says,
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2)
4) His generous mercy to the lowly and oppressed (Psalm 146:5-10)
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
So we see the psalmist professing faith in the Creator God of his fathers who is unchangingly good and gracious. How is He good and gracious? The psalmist expands:
who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
5) In providing spouses (Proverbs 18:22)
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
This isn't normally what people think of when talking about the sovereignty of God. But in all reality, we would be hard-pressed to cite a better example of His absolute control and absolute covenant love than His bringing a man and woman together in marriage.
6) His promise of restoring Israel with the New Covenant (Ezekial 16: 60-63)
“For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.”
Another prime example of God's power throughout the ages is His continual promises in the Old Testament to restore Israel with an everlasting covenant. In the previous 59 verses, God gives Israel a parable (a rather lurid parable at that!) about their own unfaithfulness. But God in His mercy did not cast Israel away, but instead promised something greater. God fulfilled these promises by sending Jesus Christ to redeem His people, both Jews and Gentiles.
7) His gracious answers to the prayers of His children (Luke 11: 9-13)
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
It is not only amazing that an eternal, holy God would even think of answering the requests of finite, sinful humans, but it is also staggering to think that God folds our prayers into the fabric of His perfect sovereign will. In other words, He has decreed that He will many times work through our prayers, so our prayers doubly fulfill both His predestining of the act of prayer itself and also the predestining of the purpose of the prayer. We can absolutely trust our wise Father knowing that He knows exactly what He has decreed and exactly how He uses our prayers--stumbling as they are--to accomplish His decrees.
8) His purposeful plan of redemption (Acts 2:22-24)
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."
I really like this passage because it shows God's pre-creation planning even in the death of Christ. The death of Christ was not a surprise or even a course-correction for God. Rather, it was something the Godhead had planned from eternity past in the council of Their own will. This logically supports and correlates to the doctrines of election and actual atonement (both of which I hope to cover in future installments of my long-neglected Calvinism 101 series).
9) His rescuing, redeeming, and forgiving sinners (Colossians 1:12-14)
[The Father] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Right on the heels of the previous passage comes this chapter in Colossians. We could really lump the entire chapter as an example of God's power but these verses especially demonstrate it. If we really understood the catastrophically evil nature of our sin, as well as Satan's power (the domain of darkness) we would properly understand God's utter omnipotence in forgiving our sin, obliterating it on Jesus Christ, and taking us from Satan's bondage. Thanks be to God's grace!
10) His victory over Satan's minions at the Day of the Lord (II Thessalonians 2:8-10)
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Paul says there will come a time in the future, before the Lord returns, that a "man of lawlessness" accompanied by "the" apostasy will be on the earth. He will be characterized by Satanic power, seemingly-convincing miracles, and outright deception. He is certainly not someone I would care to meet. But look at how God will personally destroy him: not with huge weapons or great fanfare, but simply with the breath of His mouth!